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Japan PM Abe resigns due to health issues

Aug 28, 2020 12:43 IST

Tokyo, PTI: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has resigned due to his declining health, according to reports on Friday by Japanese media. Abe announced his resignation as PM at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. Concerns about Abe's chronic health issues, simmering since earlier this summer, intensified this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups. Abe, whose term was to end in September 2021, is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the parliament. He had abruptly resigned from his first stint in office in 2007 due to his health, which was fueling concerns about his recent condition. Abe on Monday became Japan's longest serving prime minister by consecutive days in office, eclipsing the record of Eisaku Sato, his great-uncle, who served 2,798 days from 1964 to 1972. But his second hospital visit on Monday eclipsed festivity for his record and has accelerated speculation and political maneuvering toward a post-Abe regime. Abe has acknowledged having ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment. He has not made clear if it is related to his recent health issues or hospital visits. After his recent hospital visits were reported, top officials from Abe's Cabinet and the ruling party said Abe was overworked and badly needed rest. His health concerns added to speculation that Abe's days in office are numbered, when his support ratings are already at their lowest levels due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its severe impact on the economy, on top of a slew of political scandals. Shigeru Ishiba, a 63-year-old hawkish former defence minister and Abe's archrival, is a favorite next leader in media surveys, though he is less popular within the ruling party.